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Thread: S&W 44 Airlite?

  1. #1

    Default S&W 44 Airlite?

    I am a new user and this is my first post here on the directory.

    I am looking at the S&W Airlite 44 Mag for protection. I don't plan on going to shoots with it.. Just carrying when Fishing, Hiking, etc..

    This thing is light, I mean really light. To me almost to light. I have read some reviews and they seem to me to be mixed 50/50. I am sure they beat the hell out of you but since I am not going to be shooting competition with it that doesn't bother me. I can just load down when shooting paper.

    I have read where after 100 rounds they fall apart, screws come loose, cylinder release came loose etc..

    Does someone who has one or someone who has spent some time shooting with the Airlite have some good or bad info they can share.

    These are really pricey and I don't want to drop that kind of cash without a little more information.

    Appreciate any opinions you can give me!

    Doug

  2. #2
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Great pistol - esp for carry...

    Not favored by all, but I think most of the myths about this S&W falling apart have been debunked on previous threads.

    People like to comment on this gun, but if you want more info, try the search function - "Search", then "Advanced search", then "Google search of forums.outdoorsdirectory.com" Here are a few prior discussions:


    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=20947
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=25693
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=9912
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=229928
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=372763

    Lots of good information posted by others in those threads, and other threads no doubt.

    Finally, I'm curious where you read about problems with this gun:
    "I have read where after 100 rounds they fall apart, screws come loose, cylinder release came loose etc." I'd be interested in more details if you recall the source. Thanks.

    Best of luck in your search.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Not favored by all, but I think most of the myths about this S&W falling apart have been debunked on previous threads.

    People like to comment on this gun, but if you want more info, try the search function - "Search", then "Advanced search", then "Google search of forums.outdoorsdirectory.com" Here are a few prior discussions:


    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=20947
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=25693
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=9912
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=229928
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...d.php?p=372763

    Lots of good information posted by others in those threads, and other threads no doubt.

    Finally, I'm curious where you read about problems with this gun:
    "I have read where after 100 rounds they fall apart, screws come loose, cylinder release came loose etc." I'd be interested in more details if you recall the source. Thanks.

    Best of luck in your search.
    Wow Leech, thanks for the links. I did a search but didn't use the method you did and didn't get the results you gave me!

    I know it's bad form to post a review like that and not have the source. I tried to find it again but it must be buried in one of the links I was checking. It struck me as really odd and out there which is why I remembered it like I did.

    I'll read up on what you provided and if I have any questions I'll post back!

    Thanks again

  4. #4

    Default

    Ok, I have a couple of questions based on the threads I read..

    #1. I guess I should just get a set of Hogue .500 grips? They seem to make a big difference in taming the recoil.

    #2. Can these be Magnaported? I read yes and no.. If they can who in the Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer area can do this?

    #3. I have never owned a 44 mag only 357's. Is there that much difference between the heavy loads and the Buffalo bore low recoil loads? I "assume" that this is the bear load that people carry with this gun Yes?

    I did like this statement from Zeda34

    "A Better question would be "Can I hit a bear with a revolver?" Try taking a basketball and bounce it down a dirt road and try to shoot it with your revolver. How many times can you hit it with six shots. Now add some adrenaline and lots of claws and teeth. Because if you cant hit that basketball with at least 3 of those shots the six shooter does you no good."
    So, I like the idea of the light weight. I do not like the idea of not being able to control shots easily and accurately.

    Would porting, adding the Hogue grips and using the Buff Bore low recoil loads make this a manageable gun with a lot of practice? I did not read anywhere in these threads where someone actually stated that they could rapid fire, accurately using the 44 mag loads.. I read a lot about the 44 specials being easy on the wrists but not one person said anything other than that they run some 44 mags through quickly and accurately.

    I am not a big guy but I am not afraid of recoil. The problem for me isn't flinch or fear but the ability to shoot accurately and quick.

    I would rather hit 3 or 4 times than miss 4 or 5 times and have to use the last one on myself.

  5. #5

    Default

    Sad fact is that our nation's economy, sovereignty and national well being are in jeopardy from a lack of a manufacturing base. There are options to the lightweight Smith & Wesson revolver, such as the .44 made by Taurus in Brazil, but why not support a well respected and universally acknowledged leader in handgun manufacturing and support your fellow citizens when you have the option too. There is no question that Smith & Wesson makes well fitted and finsihed firearms. I've never had a complaint with mine - it's like a piece of jewelry - a beautiful product with incredibly close tolerances. Get a grip on common sense fellas, buy American.


    After three years of use I would recommend a Smith & Wesson 44 mag in the lightweight scandium version. If you carry a rifle or shotgun, you will set the gun down at every opportunity to free your hands up for fishing or any other task. There's no sense packing a weapon for defense and a feeling of security, if you have to jog 10 yards to pick it up whenever you move about or feel threatened. So a 44 mag pistol with good hunting loads is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned, and ammo is readily available.

    For years I packed a stainless steel Smith & Wesson 29 in the mountain hunter 44 mag. Heavy around the shoulders when packing it all day, but nonetheless reliable and durable. When Smith & Wesson came out with their lightweight alloy scandium revolvers they were a big seller in Alaska.

    I too heard all the second-hand stories about terrible recoil, but reasoned that most of the folks who love to rock back on their heels with thumbs in their suspenders and talk, talk, talk about guns are usually full of hot air.

    I wisely ignored all the hand-wringing talkers, and purchased a scandium 329PD to replace my old stainless 44 (both 4"). These alloy 329s weigh practically nothing, they handle and shoot well, have good, adjustable sights for windage and elevation, and come with grippy rubber grips.

    The 329 I purchased is the most accurrate pistol I've ever shot (an unexpected surprise). I prefer over the counter 240 grain Winchester soft point ammo and get incredible accurracy with it out of this gun. I shoot double handed with the left hand gripping the wrist to steady the shot and cannot tell the difference in recoil between the 3 1/2 pound stainless mountain gun and the 1 1/2 pound alloy version. Both of them roar and punch holes in critters with a vengeance - but the new 329 is far more accurrate in my hands and has barely noticeable weight when carried.

    Support your American manufacturing base, buy a Smith & Wesson lightweight 44 329 revolver with the excellent stock rubber grips and hi-vis sights. Put it in a shoulder holster where it is accessible and out of the way, then go hiking, biking, fishing or hunting.

    And, by the way, you can typically sell a used 44 Smith & Wesson in Alaska for darn near what you paid for it. The old stainless job fetched $400, nearly the $495.00 original price after packing it into the field for 12 years.

    Tommy

    SMITH AND WESSON MODEL 329PD REVOLVER - IT'S DA BOMB!




    Specifications
    Caliber: .44 Magnum®/.44 S&W Special
    Capacity: 6 Rounds
    Barrel Length: 4"
    Front Sight: "Light Gathering" HIVIZ® Orange Dot
    Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
    Firing System: N/A
    Grip: Ahrends Finger Groove Wood & Hogue Sq. Butt Rubber
    Trigger: N/A
    Hammer: N/A
    External Safety: N/A
    Frame: Large
    Finish: Matte Black
    Overall length: 9-1/2"
    Material: Scandium Frame, Stainless Steel Barrel, Titanium Cylinder
    Weight Empty: 26 ounces

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy SoHappy View Post
    Sad fact is that our nation's economy, sovereignty and national well being are in jeopardy from a lack of a manufacturing base. There are options to the lightweight Smith & Wesson revolver, such as the .44 made by Taurus in Brazil, but why not support a well respected and universally acknowledged leader in handgun manufacturing and support your fellow citizens when you have the option too. There is no question that Smith & Wesson makes well fitted and finsihed firearms. I've never had a complaint with mine - it's like a piece of jewelry - a beautiful product with incredibly close tolerances. Get a grip on common sense fellas, buy American.


    After three years of use I would recommend a Smith & Wesson 44 mag in the lightweight scandium version. If you carry a rifle or shotgun, you will set the gun down at every opportunity to free your hands up for fishing or any other task. There's no sense packing a weapon for defense and a feeling of security, if you have to jog 10 yards to pick it up whenever you move about or feel threatened. So a 44 mag pistol with good hunting loads is the only way to go as far as I'm concerned, and ammo is readily available.

    For years I packed a stainless steel Smith & Wesson 29 in the mountain hunter 44 mag. Heavy around the shoulders when packing it all day, but nonetheless reliable and durable. When Smith & Wesson came out with their lightweight alloy scandium revolvers they were a big seller in Alaska.

    I too heard all the second-hand stories about terrible recoil, but reasoned that most of the folks who love to rock back on their heels with thumbs in their suspenders and talk, talk, talk about guns are usually full of hot air.

    I wisely ignored all the hand-wringing talkers, and purchased a scandium 329PD to replace my old stainless 44 (both 4"). These alloy 329s weigh practically nothing, they handle and shoot well, have good, adjustable sights for windage and elevation, and come with grippy rubber grips.

    The 329 I purchased is the most accurrate pistol I've ever shot (an unexpected surprise). I prefer over the counter 240 grain Winchester soft point ammo and get incredible accurracy with it out of this gun. I shoot double handed with the left hand gripping the wrist to steady the shot and cannot tell the difference in recoil between the 3 1/2 pound stainless mountain gun and the 1 1/2 pound alloy version. Both of them roar and punch holes in critters with a vengeance - but the new 329 is far more accurrate in my hands and has barely noticeable weight when carried.

    Support your American manufacturing base, buy a Smith & Wesson lightweight 44 329 revolver with the excellent stock rubber grips and hi-vis sights. Put it in a shoulder holster where it is accessible and out of the way, then go hiking, biking, fishing or hunting.

    And, by the way, you can typically sell a used 44 Smith & Wesson in Alaska for darn near what you paid for it. The old stainless job fetched $400, nearly the $495.00 original price after packing it into the field for 12 years.

    Tommy

    SMITH AND WESSON MODEL 329PD REVOLVER - IT'S DA BOMB!




    Specifications
    Caliber: .44 Magnum®/.44 S&W Special
    Capacity: 6 Rounds
    Barrel Length: 4"
    Front Sight: "Light Gathering" HIVIZ® Orange Dot
    Rear Sight: Adjustable V-Notch
    Firing System: N/A
    Grip: Ahrends Finger Groove Wood & Hogue Sq. Butt Rubber
    Trigger: N/A
    Hammer: N/A
    External Safety: N/A
    Frame: Large
    Finish: Matte Black
    Overall length: 9-1/2"
    Material: Scandium Frame, Stainless Steel Barrel, Titanium Cylinder
    Weight Empty: 26 ounces
    Well, I guess I will add one of these to the arsenal!

    Anyone have any comments on my questions above?

    The one I really would like answered is where can I get this gun ported?

  7. #7
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    Default S&w m329pd....

    dvarmit....

    #1... The Hogue 500 grips are great, and available from the S&W web site's store for about $35 shipped. Great addition to a great sidearm.

    #2... Magnaporting can only be done by Magnaport, Inc. Magnaport does their magic on Airlite Smiths with the full approval of the S&W factory, with no alteration to the warrantee. The S&W Performance Center sent my M329 to Magnaport for me after first doing an action job. Makes a great difference in how the gun reacts under recoil. Before Magnaporting, the muzzle jump was excessive to me. After Magnaporting, the recoil is the same, but the muzzle jump is virtually eliminated. The recoil is linear, rather than an arc, and you are back on target ... NOW. Highly recommended ... for really good control. Good double action can then be effective.

    #3... I have been using the Buffalo Bore "Reduced Recoil" ammo, and have been quite satisfied. Have never had a misfire, after about 400 rounds ... and the Beast hasn't fallen apart yet. I see no reason to use max-type loads in this piece. The BB load is stiff enough for my purpose, and the bullet, a hardcast 255 grain GC, is tough. The same bullet from BB's "Heavy 44 Special" (1000 fps) load completely penetrated, side to side, a 3 or 4 year old moose that got into my dog team several years ago, then stayed to fight the dogs. Never found the bullet. The moose after several rounds didn't feel like fighting any more. The same bullet (@ 1300 fps) should do what I need. I intend to take a moose during moose season with my M329PD if I can call a bull I want within 25 yards. Just for the fun of it.

    You don't have to be a brute to shoot the M329PD well. One of our forum members reported that his wife enjoys shooting his. So, just practice, practice, practice.
    Last edited by Rick; 02-18-2009 at 23:00. Reason: omission.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    dvarmit....

    #1... The Hogue 500 grips are great, and available from the S&W web site's store for about $35 shipped. Great addition to a great sidearm.

    #2... Magnaporting can only be done by Magnaport, Inc. Magnaport does their magic on Airlite Smiths with the full approval of the S&W factory, with no alteration to the warrantee. The S&W Performance Center sent my M329 to Magnaport for me after first doing an action job. Makes a great difference in how the gun reacts under recoil. Before Magnaporting, the muzzle jump was excessive to me. After Magnaporting, the recoil is the same, but the muzzle jump is virtually eliminated. The recoil is linear, rather than an arc, and you are back on target ... NOW. Highly recommended ... for really good control. Good double action can then be effective.

    #3... I have been using the Buffalo Bore "Reduced Recoil" ammo, and have been quite satisfied. Have never had a misfire, after about 400 rounds ... and the Beast hasn't fallen apart yet. I see no reason to use max-type loads in this piece. The BB load is stiff enough for my purpose, and the bullet, a hardcast 255 grain GC, is tough. The same bullet from BB's "Heavy 44 Special" (1000 fps) load completely penetrated, side to side, a 3 or 4 year old moose that got into my dog team several years ago, then stayed to fight the dogs. Never found the bullet. The moose after several rounds didn't feel like fighting any more. The same bullet (@ 1300 fps) should do what I need. I intend to take a moose during moose season with my M329PD if I can call a bull I want within 25 yards. Just for the fun of it.

    You don't have to be a brute to shoot the M329PD well. One of our forum members reported that his wife enjoys shooting his. So, just practice, practice, practice.
    That was exactly what I was looking for. I looked up the MagnaPorting site and checked it out. It appears I just complete the order form, send it via UPS or Fedx next day, they port it and send it back.. Sounds easy enough..

    You were using the 44 specials and not the 44 mag loads on that moose hugh? Do you normally run with the specials and not the mags?

  9. #9
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    Default Airlite S&Ws ....

    dvarmit ....

    I didn't buy my M329PD until August '08. Until then, my woods/carry piece was a S&W M396 Mountain Light - .44 Special, which dispatched the moose. I carried it for at least 8 years with the BB "heavy 44 Special" load. The Little Beast weighs 18 oz., or 21 oz. loaded. I still carry my 396 in the winter, and will carry my 329 the rest of the year. It all depends on whether the bears are in their dens, although, at close range I believe the Little Beast with the afore mentioned BB load will penetrate and make a big hole. With years of practice, I can shoot the hard recoiling 396 well. Although, I'm going to send it to Magnaport, due to the excellent results I've had with my Magnaported M329. I have had several rifles Magnaported, and am very pleased with the results. Muzzle jump is virtually eliminated. My 329 is the first handgun I've had MP'd, and it's a revelation on a 329.

    I won't use 44 Specials loads in my 329. If I want lighter 44 mag loads, I can handload them on 44 mag cases. But I'm happy with the Buffalo Bore 255 load. And my 396 is formidable with the BB heavy 44 Special load. I love my Airlite Smiths.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    dvarmit ....

    I didn't buy my M329PD until August '08. Until then, my woods/carry piece was a S&W M396 Mountain Light - .44 Special, which dispatched the moose. I carried it for at least 8 years with the BB "heavy 44 Special" load. The Little Beast weighs 18 oz., or 21 oz. loaded. I still carry my 396 in the winter, and will carry my 329 the rest of the year. It all depends on whether the bears are in their dens, although, at close range I believe the Little Beast with the afore mentioned BB load will penetrate and make a big hole. With years of practice, I can shoot the hard recoiling 396 well. Although, I'm going to send it to Magnaport, due to the excellent results I've had with my Magnaported M329. I have had several rifles Magnaported, and am very pleased with the results. Muzzle jump is virtually eliminated. My 329 is the first handgun I've had MP'd, and it's a revelation on a 329.

    I won't use 44 Specials loads in my 329. If I want lighter 44 mag loads, I can handload them on 44 mag cases. But I'm happy with the Buffalo Bore 255 load. And my 396 is formidable with the BB heavy 44 Special load. I love my Airlite Smiths.
    Rick,

    Thanks for the good information. None of my big bores are ported but I have shot ones that are and it makes a huge difference. I have a 300 Weatherby that is just punishing to shoot.

    I am glad to hear a really good word about the porting considering it costs $225.00 to port from Magna and that doesn't include getting the thing to them. Probably have close to $300.00+ just in getting it ported.

    It appears that the porting the 329 is well worth the money not only from your post here but from a couple of others I have read.

    Now, if I could just find one for less than a grand..

  11. #11
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    Default M329PD under a grand ....

    dvarmit ....

    After looking for one for several months, much to my surprise, I found one at my local Fred Meyers store for $779 and jumped on it. I believe it was miss-priced. A dealer said that was approaching wholesale. Shortly thereafter the Freddy's price was raised to $969, about the standard store price in Fairbanks.

    Keep looking. You'll find one.

    Rick

  12. #12

    Default

    Well, after much searching both the shops and my wallet I ended up buying a Taurus Ultra-Lite Titanium in the 44 mag. It was in excellent condition for a used gun and the fact that it was used saved me a couple hundred bucks. I just couldn't spend $1,000 so I settled for the Taurus.

    I have read a lot of posts and some guys hate them and others love them and some are in the middle. I generally like the gun. It has a good feel to it and the trigger pull is pretty smooth. I am going to send it to Magnaport to have it ported to tame the vertical recoil down a little.

    Thanks to everyone who posted their thoughts and for the help! Maybe some day I will come up with the cash to get a S&W but until then I'll be carrying the Taurus.

  13. #13

    Default 329PD $789 at WalMart in Eagle River today

    I stopped by the gun counter at WalMart in ER today, and they had the 329PD for $789. That is about as cheap as I have seen them in a long time.

    My hunting buddy bought one about 1-1/2-2 years ago, and it cost him $750 then. We went to the range and shot heavy loads through it. Recoil was very substantial, but the gun felt like excellent quality, and it shot quite accurately for the first time out.

    It is so nice to carry!

    Jim

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by midnightsunfun View Post
    I stopped by the gun counter at WalMart in ER today, and they had the 329PD for $789. That is about as cheap as I have seen them in a long time.

    My hunting buddy bought one about 1-1/2-2 years ago, and it cost him $750 then. We went to the range and shot heavy loads through it. Recoil was very substantial, but the gun felt like excellent quality, and it shot quite accurately for the first time out.

    It is so nice to carry!

    Jim
    I'll bet you that is the wrong price.. I can't imagine that they can sell that gun for almost $200.00 less than everyone else. I think someone else posted about finding one for that price and the price was wrong. Still a super deal though.

  15. #15

    Default Wal Mart Eagle River Price for 329PD: $799.99

    Your note made me doubt my aging memory so I called the Eagle River WalMart this morning, and talked with Howard in the sporting goods department--I did remember the price slightly incorrectly--the price on the 329PD is $779.99. If you ask me, that is still a lot of dough for a stock revolver, but it is a pretty good price compared to other stores I have been in lately.

    As Murphy would say, "GOOD SHOOTING!"

    Jim

  16. #16
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    Default $779.00 ....

    If someone near Eagle River is looking for a new S&W M329 PD, they had best hurry on down to E.R. WalMart and snag that bargain, reported above. That's a deal and a half.

    Happy Huntin'.

  17. #17

    Default Sadly, as of Saturday 3/21, Price at ER WM is now $950-ish

    The old stock must have been sold off. The bargain isn't available any more.
    Best Regards,
    Jim

  18. #18
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    Default Check out ...

    Check out www.gunrunners.com in anchorage they have a few for a $869. The 2.5 inch version.

  19. #19
    Member pta's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by midnightsunfun View Post
    The old stock must have been sold off. The bargain isn't available any more.
    Best Regards,
    Jim

    I bought the last they sold at $779 a couple of weeks ago. When the saleman rang it up, and worked up the PR to get it purchased from the wholesaler, he commented that at that price their margin was -7% (meaning they were selling it for less then they were buying it). When I picked it up a couple of days later, they had raised the price by about $200. I owe the good deal to the guys here, and am sorry I was the last one to get it.
    FYI, while I was shopping, I saw that the Dimond WM had the gun priced at $820, which is still a great price (I have not been out there lately, so I don't know if it is still priced that low).
    Now I need to get it out to the range to see if I'm going to be able to hang on to this thing.
    2007 26' Northriver OS, Suzuki 300.

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